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Tiananmen 16 Years Later

Today, June 4, 2005, 16 years after the bloody crackdown that took place in and around Tiananmen Square, Human Rights Watch calls on China to stop trying to rewrite history. Until China’s leaders are willing to seriously confront the events of 1989, that cannot happen.

The government’s first step must be to overturn the 1989 verdict calling the movement by workers, students, and the citizens of Beijing and other cities and towns across China a counterrevolutionary rebellion. That verdict denies redress and public acknowledgement of their losses to those whose sons, daughters, wives, and husbands were killed. It prevents those who escaped from returning to China to visit their families, to mourn parents, even to be reunited with their own children.

China’s current leadership must publicly hold accountable those who made the decision to turn the People’s Liberation Army against the citizens of Beijing and who ordered the imprisonment of thousands of others throughout China. The leadership must formally exonerate or initiate new and fair trials, attended by international observers, for all those convicted of crimes in the aftermath of June 4. It must issue a complete list of those who died, those who were injured, and those who went to prison.

As the world watches, China must permit those who lost loved ones to publicly mourn and to join together in mourning. And it must join with all those who call for a full and impartial investigation of what the world has come to call the Tiananmen Massacre.

The coverup has gone on too long.

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